SINGAPORE: About 164,000 Singaporeans live in private properties and do not declare income for the purpose of personal income tax here, said Second Minister of Finance Indranee Rajah on Wednesday (May 8).
This group, making up about 6 per cent of 2.7 million adult citizens, either do not have any yearly income or have non-taxable income, such as those from interests or dividends.
Some may have taxable income, but are not required to file tax returns after taking into account tax deductions and reliefs.
This group also includes citizens who have access to other financial means, said Ms Indranee. These can be retirees with private savings and those who are receiving financial support from economically active family members.
The Government, however, does not have further details of the financial situation of these citizens as it only collects information required for tax administration, she added.
Ms Indranee was replying to a question from Mountbatten SMC MP Lim Biow Chuan who asked for the number of citizens living in private housing but do not have any declared income.
In his supplementary questions, Mr Lim asked if more could be done to assess the financial status of these private property dwellers, especially those without income and may be "genuinely poor".
Those living in private property currently do not qualify for several Budgetary provisions, such as GST Vouchers, and other initiatives like Government-sponsored digital TV starter kits.
Citing feedback from his constituency, Mr Lim said some residents have noted that this is “inequitable” and they feel “disadvantaged” due to their type of residence.
In response to that, Ms Indranee said some social schemes are structured with specific groups in mind. The GST Vouchers, for instance, are aimed at helping the lower-income group.
She added that there are schemes that apply to those living in private properties. Special packages, such as the Merdeka Generation Package and the Pioneer Generation Package, are also in place to “give recognition” to all Singaporeans.
“The group that Mr Lim is talking about … some of them may have financial resources like savings or non-taxable income by way of dividends or their children may be looking after them,” she said.
“The challenge then is how do you identify who has no income at all and need assistance.”
Ms Indranee urged those in need of help to apply for assistance, as "the system does allow for appeals and considerations for particular circumstances".
“The assurance we can give is that those genuinely in need will not be left without assistance," she said.